Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

You’ve spotted a fire on the ALERTWilfire website—now what?

Most fires on the website have already been reported and an attack is already underway. But not always… here are some tips to see if you’ve spotted an unreported fire. (1) Most fires that are centered in the field of view and zoomed into are already confirmed. (2) A fire start that is not zoomed into and/or centered in the frame has a good chance of being a new start. (3) Time lapse the main camera pane (see below); if you see the camera move to and zoom toward the fire, you know fire authorities are on it! (4) After assessing the tips given, and you think it’s a fire. Call 9-1-1. In the shoulder seasons, ALERTWildfire is also used to monitor prescribed burns and the rules outlined above still are a good guide in understanding what’s an Rx burn or possibly a late or early season wildfire.

Selecting Geographic Region on Main Map

The region of choice can be selected by either clicking the "hamburger menu" (3 parallel lines) in the upper left hand corner of the main webpage, or by going to the jigsaw puzzle map and clicking the black anchor point (and then the network name in the pop up icon).

Supported Web Browsers

Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari are supported browsers for the ALERTWildfire website. Internet Explorer and Edge are not supported due to poor support of many critical features in Javascript used to power the website.

Time Lapse

Users can request a time lapse of imagery by either right-clicking in the main camera pane (upper let) or on touch screen devices  such as iPhones, iPads or Galaxy Android phones—just press on the main pane for about two seconds. In either case, a menu is  provided offering 15 minutes, 1 hour, 3 hour, 6 hour, and 12 hours time lapses.

Map Functions

An icon of 3 stacked pages in the upper right corner of the map provides options for camera field view, lightning “heat" map,  camera targets for location services, and a variety of maps ranging from street maps, satellite maps, etc …

Fire Location

First turn on camera targets in the map menu and the user can either right click at the intersection of two camera targets/lines or for touch screen devices—just press on the screen for a few seconds. A latitude and longitude value will be returned in a pop-up window.

Camera Selection

Either click on the selected camera thumbnail below the main camera pane and map, or use the camera icon in the uppermost right corner of the web page window to choose the camera of choice from the menu. Another choice is driven through the map interface. First click the camera icon on the map, and then within the pop-up window, click the camera icon image. Other interesting information about the camera is also provided  such as the Internet Service Provider, county, region, target angle, etc...

Digital Zoom and Full Screen Option

In the upper corner of the main camera pane there are two buttons: a plus-minus button to digital zoom (optical zoom and pan-tilt-zoom are performed by fire fighters and first responders).  The expansion button below allows the main camera pane to extend full screen into your  browser window.

Place Target on Map

The user can also place a target (such as a reported fire location) onto the map by clicking the target icon beneath the map options icon (3 stacked  pages). Next, enter latitude and longitude in decimal degree format.

Sponsor Icons

The entity that provides ongoing funding for each camera, installation and software upkeep are positioned in the upper righthand corner of the main pane.  Funding organizations include utilities, federal, state and local governmental organizations, and NGOs.

Gray Rectangles

To provide privacy near cameras located within the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), buildings and other structures have been blocked out from  field of view.

Tweet Button

If you think you may have discovered a fire (hint: if the fire is not centered in field of view there’s a good chance it’s a new fire start). First call 911 and then click the Tweet button to also alert ALERTWildfire personnel. This scenario has already happened!

YouTube Button

Interested in seeing recent or past footage from wildfires recorded from the ALERTWildfire network—just click the YouTube icon, or this link!

Partners Page

It takes a village! Click the Partners link to see the dozens and dozens of organizations helping to make ALERTWildfire possible. Thanks to everyone!


Learn more about ALERTWildfire and how it all started, including an idea from school children living in Meadow Vista, California nearly a decade ago.

Useful Links

Real-time Situational Awareness

CALFIRE Incidents
Nevada Wildfire Information Map
Great Basin Coordination Center
Oregon Fires
Washington Fires
Idaho Fire Info
Utah Fire Info
Smoke Distribution

IOU Weather and Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS)

San Diego Gas & Electric
Southern California Edison
Pacific Gas and Electric
NV Energy

ALERTWildfire in the News

CNBC - California’s next Governor hopes to get a jump on fires…
Techwire - Officials continue to expand ALERTWildfire camera system…
New York Times - Spotting Wildfires Could Become Easier…
Press Democrat - Fire camera mounted above path of deadly blaze…

Learn More about ALERTWildfire

Jeffrey B. Graham Perspectives Lecture: California’s Wildfires
2018 Lake Tahoe Summit, Science Keynote
TedX Talk: Crowd Sourcing Wildfire Detection